Contrary to what you might believe, it IS possible to immerse ourselves in the spirit of the holiday while maintaining space and self-care…
This post comes from contributor Nina Endrst.
Though my childhood memories aren’t very vivid — some I’ve blocked out, while others are just a little fuzzy — I do hold an abundance of sparkly, shiny ones touched by the holidays. I grew up really fast (for a variety of reasons). Much of the magic and innocence of youth was nonexistent for me. So, the holidays always served as a free pass to be as joyful and childlike as possible. I think that’s what I and many people hold onto – feelings of spaciousness and warmth, the hope that all will be peaceful, merry and bright – even if just for a day or two.
I spent a lot of time as a kid trying to “fix” or mend situations/relationships. I wasn’t necessarily asked to do so, but it was and still is my natural instinct. Because I rarely assessed and tended to my own needs, I was ready to let loose come holiday time, belting out carols and collecting all the gifts I thought I’d earned. The holiday season felt like a full and deep breath of fresh air. Later in life, that manifested as party-hopping and drinking entirely too much wine. Despite the need for celebration and embracing fun, I became aware that much of the connectedness I felt as a child had all but disappeared. When the veil lifted, I realized there was in actuality a lot of numbing, built-up resentment and toxic behavior flowing at such “celebrations.”
Guilt permeates so much of our social obligations – we end up everywhere and nowhere at the same time, trying to accommodate everyone’s wants and needs, and are likely completely drained come January 3. I believe it’s high time we practice living and celebrating more spaciously and consciously. All millennial jokes aside, our generation is not “softer” or “more sensitive” than others — we are simply doing the work to understand and communicate what makes us feel good and what doesn’t.
As such, I choose to disperse my energy differently these days. I use the bulk of my reserves to take care of myself, my family and run a business. Meaning, there isn’t much left to go around. I require rest, regular exercise, a relatively clean diet and plenty of downtime to be my best self. Many of us can relate; unfortunately, many of us also think it’s selfish to put boundaries in place, especially during the holidays. I assure you it is not!
We don’t have to go to all the events, drink all the booze, buy all the presents, see all the friends and family. This season can be incredibly daunting for some == the expectations, the rush of energy, the triggering conversations with Uncle whatever his name is. It is a blessed and happy time, sure – it also holds shadowy moments that creates stress in our minds, bodies and hearts.
I hope these practices encourage you to nurture yourself and those you love this holiday season.
Give the Gift of Time and Space.
Mindful gifts. That’s the name of the game here. Most of us love to give AND receive gifts, and there are plenty of ways to do this more consciously. What about presents that encourage presence, like a retreat, a trip, a wellness hour, massage or acupuncture? For the nonstop-busy person in your life, consider a solo spa day. Give your people the gift of time and space! Babysit a friend’s kids so they can spend time with their partner, or schedule a one-on-one, no-phones-allowed date. Get creative and remember, connecting with each other is what matters most. The rest is just icing on the cake.
Nourish Yourself and Others.
Let’s keep it real — Christmas cookies are awesome, and I’m sure someone in your life is breaking out champagne, before noon, on at least one occasion. That’s ok. Balance may be more difficult to achieve around the holidays, but it is certainly possible. Prioritize your and your loved ones’ health and well-being, and watch things shift. Take time for yourself, and politely decline any invitation that feels like too much for you. Feed yourself good and natural food MOST of the time, so that a not-so-healthy choice doesn’t hit too hard. The more we say no to what drains us, the more in tune we will be with people and experiences that fill us up. A few of my favorite wellness-inspired gifts ideas: a delicious and healthy meal at a fabulous restaurant, natural skin care or bath products, a yoga class card, an organic grocery store trip, a sleep mask, this gua sha stone or these crystals!
Forgive and Let Live.
The highs and lows associated with the holidays are very real, so it is especially important to practice compassion and patience. If someone misses your party, hurts your feelings, try not to take it too personally – there may be something going on behind the scenes. I’m not suggesting that you swallow your feelings — only that you approach tough conversations with a grounded energy and sensitive heart. If you’ve been triggered, excuse yourself and go for a walk. Leave the situation temporarily. Talk when you have calmed down so nothing is said that might incur regret. Bottom line is, we never know what someone is going through — internal struggle is invisible to the naked eye. Be gentle and kind to all, now and every day of the year.